Introduction to Literature
15 Sept. 2014
“Good Country People” and “Everything That Rises must Converge” In these two stories the characters Hulga and Julian share a similar attitude. They both have tension in their relationships with their mothers. In “Good Country People”, Hulga feels higher above her mother in intellect and her beliefs and feels a sense of control from her Ph.D. in philosophy. Hulga is also extremely headstrong and difficult for her mother to even work with, “to which the girl, standing square and rigid-shouldered with her neck thrust slightly forward, would reply, ‘If you want me, here I am-LIKE I AM’”(435 O’Conner). Even Hulga’s name is an act of rebellion and shows that she is trying to prove something to her mother, “Mrs. Hopewell was certain that she had thought and thought until she had hit upon the ugliest name in any language” (435 O’Conner). Mrs. Hopewell doesn’t understand her daughter’s interest in philosophy and it’s clear that Hulga does not live up to her mother’s expectations. This is precisely the reason Hulga rebels even further. She feels as though she must prove something to her mother. Her mother does not accept her like she is and that causes Hulga to have resentment and a reason to rebel.
Julian, in “Everything That Rises Must Converge” feels superior to his mother and from his time at College he has been exposed to new ideas about race and class. Since he has only known his mother’s limited beliefs all these years he feels as though it’s his duty to show his mother this lesson, “He began to imagine various unlikely ways by which he could teach her a lesson. He might make friends with some distinguished Negro professor or lawyer and bring him home to spend the evening”. (453 O’Conner) Julian seems to have these views about race and wants to show them to his mother, but as the story progresses he seems only to want revenge on his mother for some unresolved resentment he has against her. Both mothers in these stories are fairly critical yet simple and try to influence their kids to be like them although their kids rebel against their views and opinions. Flannery O’Conner uses violence to return her characters to reality and prepares them for a moment of grace. In “Good Country People” Hulga is faced with a decision and she decides to surrender herself and her wooden leg to Pointer, “This boy, with an instinct that came from beyond wisdom, had touched the truth about her. When after a minute she said in a hoarse high voice, ‘All right,’ it was like surrendering to him completely. It was like losing her own life and finding it again, miraculously in his” (O’Conner 445-446). Hulga’s character is at first an unlikeable character; mostly because of her sour attitude. As the story progresses O’Conner makes the reader feel sympathy for her when her artificial leg is taken away. Hulga is left without a leg but has gained a better understanding of herself in the…